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I made my way from Marinduque Island to Puerto Galera and I stayed in the Sabang Inn Dive Resort for 7 nights. Even though I was there at the end of the ‘season’, and the service starting falling apart, I recommend this resort.
It was a decent sized room with many ‘comforts’ not typically found at this price in The Philippines: a wardrobe, satellite movie and sports channels, hot water shower, fridge, furniture, and plenty of power ports (some with USB connections).
Alas, the restaurant service left much to be desired. In fact, I never ate breakfast there in the whole 7 days. On my first morning I sat down for breakfast and waited 10 minutes for someone to serve me … I was the only person there! … I lost patience and asked for a menu … after another 30 minutes of not seeing a menu, I left and went next door. The Seashore Resort next door served breakfast at half the price of the Sabang Inn and brought the menu to your table as you sat down.
MY HOTEL TO SABANG PIER:
Puerto Galera is, actually, very small. Perhaps half the size of El Nido (but the prices and the ‘vibe’ are very similar).
It should be easy to walk from your hotel to the Pier. When you are in Puerto Galera, you know where the pier is … it is where the one road into town stops.
Fast Boats from Puerto Galera to Batangas leave: 7:45am, 9:15am, 11:30am and about 1:00pm. I targeted the 7:45am.
I was packed and ready to check out of the Sabang Inn at 7:30am. The Reception was closed (it had been closed since at least 7:30pm the night before) … which makes it very difficult to check out and pay your bill. I gave the only (kitchen) girl there my key and the money for the bill that I had clocked up for dinners and left her to it.
I was at pier in 5 minutes.
THE BANGKA TO BATANGAS:
You buy your ticket for the Bangka at the pier; it is just a couple of guys sitting at a desk.
The boat was late. It docked at 8:05am and we left at 8:15am.
The seas were calm and comfortable; it took us 75 minutes to get to Batangas. We were landed by 9:30am.
Budget for longer in rougher seas.
BATANGAS FERRY TERMINAL TO BUS TERMINAL:
As usual, I walked out of the Terminal and ignored the touts.
In Batangas, these touts really try hard … they’ll tell you all sorts of stories … ‘there is no bus until noon’, ‘the bus terminal is far away’, … all so that they can get you to jump in a taxi for PHP1,000.
Just walk out of the terminal for another 100m (follow the signs) and you will find the Bus Terminal.
You have a choice:
- Catch a bus to Manila from the Batangas Ferry port
- Catch a ride to the main Bus Terminal about 2kms out of town and catch one from there
The buses from the Batangas ferry terminal do not go to all of the Manila Bus Terminal options.
Before you get to Batangas, do your homework! Know which Manila Bus Terminal is the most convenient for you. They are scattered all over Manila and you could end up miles away from where you want to be.
The most convenient Manila Bus Terminal for me was Buendia which is next to the Gil Puyat Metro Station. From the Gil Puyat, I was only 2 stops away from my hotel.
There are 3 or 4 bus companies that leave Batangas Ferry Port for Buendia: JAM are one. the others leave from the main Bus Terminal 2 kms away.
When I arrived at the Batangas Port Bus Terminal there were 3 JAM Buses waiting (amongst many others) … they were all going to different Manila destinations … one was going to Buendia. Perfect! I got on it.
BATANGAS BUS TERMINAL TO MANILA:
The JAM bus left Batangas at 10:30am. The price to Manila was PHP167.
They played a movie on the bus but it was, otherwise, uneventful.
We were at Gil Puyat by 12:45pm.
GIL PUYAT TO MY HOTEL – MANILA METRO:
Manila Metro is designed to be a ‘people carrier’, full stop!
Anyway, I had ‘a go’ … ‘cos it’s what I do. 🙂
I lugged my suitcase up 2 flights of Metro stairs to be confronted by a security check … not much different from entering an airport. You hand your hand luggage to security for inspection as you walk through an ‘archway’ scanner.
Well, I stuffed the system completely. I’ve got my suitcase and my backpack … and about 100 people in the Q behind me trying to get through security to catch a train … and, none of them understand the ‘concept’ of queuing.
Funny isn’t the word. They have this table that’s about 18 inches square to check people’s handbags on. On went my 20Kg suitcase (it nearly broke the table legs). I had to open it … I couldn’t open it flat, so my clothes started falling out … I think that the security guard just put me in the ‘too hard basket’ and flagged me through.
If you plan to be in Manila for more than a day, buy a ‘Beep Card’. Your first card costs PHP100: PHP20 for the Card and PHP80 in credits. The Beep Card allows you to scan your way through the Metro system without queuing for tickets each time.
The card also comes in VERY HANDY for fooling Hotel Security Systems (see Tips, Tricks, and Traps).
Needless to say … me, my suitcase, and my backpack were not very welcome on the Metro … but they found room for me and I managed to get to Quirino Station.
From Quirino, it was a 500 walk to my hotel.
MY HOTEL – LEESONS RESIDENCES:
I found the Leesons Residences on Agoda.
This was the most expensive rate that I have paid for ANY hotel in S.E.Asia in 18 months.
Agoda were offering a 70% discount and I could get the room for PHP840 / night if I booked 10 nights.
I booked 10 nights. I was looking forward to spoiling myself a little bit in a nice, confy hotel in Manila.
The pictures on the internet looked good and it is described as 20sqm.
I arrived at the hotel at 12:30pm. My room was not ready … I would have to wait until 2:00pm. There is NO flexibility on the 2:00pm check in time – whether the room is ready or not, you have to wait.
Whilst I was waiting for my room to become ‘free’ I talked to a French couple who had stayed there the night before for PHP1,000 / night. They were waiting for 2:00pm to find out if they could extend 1 night. They had paid a PHP1,500 Security Deposit.
Come 2:00pm, they were told that they could extend for 1 more night but the price for the same room would be DOUBLE: PHP2,000 / night. They packed and left.
They, then, asked me for a PHP2,500 Security Deposit! This was on a room that I had booked for 10 nights and paid for in advance.
I have been travelling a long time … not just for the last 18 months in S.E.Asia … and I have NEVER been asked for such a Security Deposit IN CASH at check-in. NEVER.
It would seem, that the hotel is asking for whatever they think they can get away with.
As my Dad used to say … they had me in a ‘Kremlin Crutchhold’. I wasn’t impressed.
There is no lift, you have to go up and down the stairs. There are 5 floors! I was lucky to only be on the 3rd floor.
When I got to my room, it was small and not 20sqm. It had no wardrobe – which is a problem when you are staying 10 nights (so, yet again, out came my washing line! – which I had to hang around the window frame).
The hotel is in the middle of nowhere – at least 500m from the nearest place to eat (other than a Carederia / Tinpot) … the nearest ‘half decent’ choice happens to be either McDonalds and Jollibee! So, there I was in Manila eating dinner in McDonalds on my first night!
There is nothing for Western Tourists within a 1 km radius of the hotel.
The Leesons Residences’ only redeeming feature is that it is 500m from Quirino Metro Station – so you can get out and about Manila fairly easily and cheaply.
The room, itself, was unimpressive. The aircon was so loud that I had to switch it to ‘fan mode’ at night to get some sleep.
The balcony is not very usable. It is only just wide enough to fit the 1 plastic chair that you have in your room. It is really only for smokers to pop outside to have a cigarette.
The internet is a ‘chit’ system. The chit has a data maximum and expires when that max is reached or after 24 hours. You have to collect your new chit from reception each day.
THE CYNIC IN ME:
I emailed Agoda about this hotel to complain about the hidden and excessive Security Deposit. I suggested strongly that Leesons should update their text to specify that a Security Deposit is required and to state how much it is going to be.
Agoda said that they would contact Leesons to do so – but, it was never done. The text on Agoda’s site still does not clarify the Security Deposit issue.
The Rack Rate for the rooms at Leesons is pure fantasy. They are worth nothing like the PHP3,125 / night that my room is listed for.
In my humble opinion, the room prices are totally exaggerated so that they can offer discounts of 70% on these rooms on Agoda.
The reality, is that my PHP3,125 room wouldn’t be worth more that PHP1,200 anywhere else in The Philippines – that includes beach resorts.
The cynic in me wonders whether or not Agoda are complicit in this – it is in Agoda’s interest to be able to advertise 70% discounts on Manila Hotels. They definitely didn’t try too hard to fix the Security Deposit problem with the hotel.
Leesons offer a taxi from their hotel to the airport for PHP2,000! At ‘check out’ they ask you several times if you need a taxi to the airport. I mean SEVERAL times. Anyone who has travelled in The Philippines for any length of time knows that PHP2,000 to go less than 10 kms is an absolute rip off. But people new to The Philippines don’t.
The cynic in me wonders whether or not the Security Deposit is related to Leesons wanting to make money on their airport taxi … let’s face it, when you ‘check out’ and get your Security Deposit back … you have enough money to pay for the taxi. If you are flying out of the country, what else are you going to do with that much cash?
I have added this post because many people on the internet are saying that there is lots of information about getting from Manila to Puerto Galera (but not visa versa).
I hope that you find this little ditty useful.
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